As hospitals face a surge of COVID-19 patients, the ability for them to care for trauma cases and medical and surgical emergencies is severely compromised. Because of this, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) on April 7 issued a statement calling for strategies to preserve capacity and capability to care for all emergency patients.
ACS recommends the following:
- Engage physician leadership of the trauma, cardiac, and stroke systems in regional planning and response processes.
- Review trauma registry and hospital admission data to understand the usual volume of patients with time-sensitive emergencies and determine what proportion will need mechanical ventilation and ICU beds.
- Identify the leading trauma, stroke, and myocardial infarction centers in the region and develop a strategy to preserve a resuscitation area in the ED and ICU along with surgical resources to care for these patients.
- Many trauma surgeons also are surgical intensivists. If trauma surgeons are needed to care for COVID-19 patients, identify other surgical specialists who can staff trauma resuscitation and emergent surgical procedures.
- Develop a regional medical operations center to coordinate the distribution of COVID-19 patients among area hospitals.
- If a cardiac/stroke/trauma center is reaching capacity, develop a strategy to transport patients (including COVID-19 patients) out of the facility or divert those patients to a facility capable of providing the same level of emergency care.
- If a regional healthcare system is overwhelmed, the regional medical operations center should consider distribution of patients to other regions.
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